Two Credit Card Scams

dreamgardenApril 1, 2006

This is reprinted from my subscription to:

http://www.scambusters.org /The #1 Publication on Internet Fraud

By Audri and Jim Lanford

Issue #172 March 29, 2006

Credit Card Scam #1:

We've gotten a LOT of questions lately asking us whether or

not the following credit card scam is a hoax:

WARNING... New Credit Card Scam.

This one is pretty slick since the crooks provide YOU with all

the information, except the one piece they want.

Note, the callers do not ask for your card number; they

already have it. This information is worth reading. By

understanding how the VISA & MasterCard Telephone Credit Card

Scam works, you'll be better prepared to protect yourself.

Here's a story passed along by a concerned citizen:

One of our employees was called on Wednesday from "VISA", and

I was called on Thursday from "MasterCard".

The scam works like this: Person calling says, "This is

(name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department

at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged

for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify.

This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of

bank).

"Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from

a Marketing company based in Arizona?"

When you say "No", the caller continues with, "Then we will be

issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have

been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just

under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before

your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you

your address), is that correct?"

You say "yes". The caller continues - "I will be starting a

Fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should

call the 1-800 number listed on the back of your card

(1-800-VISA) and ask for Security.

You will need to refer to this Control Number. The caller then

gives you a 6 digit number. "Do you need me to read it again?"

Here's the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works. The caller

then says, "I need to verify you are in possession of your

card". He'll ask you to turn your card over and look for some

numbers. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your

card number, the next 3 are the security Numbers that verify

you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you

sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the

card. The caller will ask you to read the 3 numbers to him.

After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, "That is

correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been

lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have

any other questions?" After you say No, the caller then thanks

you and states, "Don't hesitate to call back if you do," and

hangs up.

You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell

you the Card number. But after we were called on Wednesday, we

called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we glad

we did! The REAL VISA Security Department told us it was a

scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 was

charged to our card.

Long story made short - we made a real fraud report and closed

the VISA account. VISA is reissuing us a new number. What the

scammers want is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of the

card. Don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call

VISA or MasterCard directly for verification of their

conversation.

The real VISA told us that they will never ask for anything on

the card as they already know the information since they

issued the card! If you give the scammers your 3 Digit PIN

Number, you think you're receiving a credit. However, by the

time you get your statement you'll see charges for purchases

you didn't make, and by then it's almost too late and/or more

difficult to actually file a fraud report.

What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a

call from a "Jason Richardson of MasterCard" with a

word-for-word repeat of the VISA scam. This time I didn't let

him finish. I hung up!

We filed a police report, as instructed by VISA. The police

said they are taking several of these reports daily! They also

urged us to tell everybody we know that this scam is

happening.

--- End email ---

Answer: This is most likely a real credit card scam. We have

a good number of subscribers tell us they have received these

calls.

In addition, this credit card scam is neither difficult nor

expensive for a scammer to execute (although they couldn't do

it too often without running into trouble with their merchant

account).

The biggest red flag is the last sentence, though: we do not

recommend you tell everyone you know (especially by sending

emails). These requests that you tell everyone you know about

something are almost always signs of hoaxes.

Action: Never give any info about your personal credit card or

other financial information out to people who call you. If

you have a question, you should call the phone number on the

back of your credit card directly.


Credit Card Scam \#2:

Here is a common scam targeting people with imperfect credit
  
histories we thought you should know about...

This scam also begins with a phone call. The caller tells you
  
that you've been pre\-approved for a credit card. The credit
  
limit varies from call to call, but the caller usually quotes
  
a credit limit of around $5,000.

The caller says that this is a perfect way to begin rebuilding
  
your credit and since you have less\-than\-ideal credit, this
  
is the perfect opportunity. To sweeten the deal, sometimes the
  
caller says that in addition to receiving your pre\-approved
  
credit card, you'll also receive a free computer.

Here's the reality: The scammer simply wants to get some
  
information from you \-\- the routing number for your bank and
  
your checking or savings account number.

Why do they want this information? They say it's to process
  
the one\-time fee (which ranges anywhere from $250 to $400).

Unfortunately, many people are falling victim to this scam.
  
They give the caller their bank account information. The money
  
gets withdrawn from their bank account and that's where the
  
nightmare begins.

Some callers aren't receiving anything at all for the money
  
that's been taken out of their bank accounts. Others are
  
receiving a package via UPS.

What's in the package? An application for a pre\-paid credit
  
card and a service agreement for a computer that will cost
  
them about $800!

So where's the credit card with the $5,000 credit limit and
  
the free computer?

It doesn't exist.

To make matters worse, the victims suddenly start seeing
  
unauthorized transactions being posted to their account and
  
some have even had problems with identity theft.

Actions: First and foremost, don't ever give your personal
  
information (such as bank account numbers and birth dates)
  
over the phone to someone who calls you asking for it.

Second, never, ever apply for a credit card that you have to
  
pay for up front. While it's not uncommon to have to pay an
  
annual fee for a credit card (especially if you have tarnished
  
credit), the annual fee should be charged to the credit
  
account AFTER you receive the credit card. It shouldn't be
  
paid for up front with your bank account.

That's it for today \-\- hope you have a great week.
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marie26

Thank you for posting this.

I got a call from one of those "get 10 free CD" clubs right after my husband completed his membership and closed the account. The woman said she wanted to thank him for being such a good customer and said she wanted to send a free CD and asked which one he wanted. I told her we would never sign on with a club over the phone and we would not renew our membership but she said she wasn't asking us to do that. She just wanted to send us a free CD for being a good member in the past. I told her the name of the CD we wanted and then told her not to send it if it meant we would become members of the club. She said, don't worry, the CD is free and no obligations to anything.

Guess what, we got a bill for the CD and keep getting their monthly bulletins. I've written them twice saying I won't be paying. Obviiously, why would I sign up and get 1 CD when I could get 10 for free by sending in one of their postcards?

So, I learned my lesson to never believe anyone over the phone. So far, the company has chosen to disregard my written correspondence with them, once online and the other by mail.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 3:27PM
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dreamgarden

I never give information over the phone unless I called them. Another pet peeve I have is with automatic payments. I'll never do that again ever since my cell phone provider gouged me for 4 consecutive months of payments even though I was paying cash at their store. My credit card provider said unless they got word from them, they would allow them to keep taking payment and I would have to pay, or else.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2006 at 12:51AM
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cynic

People have to learn that when someone calls, you at least get a number and call them back. And it's laughable that someone would need to "verify" that I have my card in my possession. That's red flag #1. Then they want me to read the number to convince them I have it? CLANG! That's the BS bell! Another reason for caller ID.

This one has me confused though:
"...my cell phone provider gouged me for 4 consecutive months of payments even though I was paying cash at their store."
If you have autopay, why are you paying cash at the store? Something's missing or I'm not following something.

"...they would allow them to keep taking payment and I would have to pay, or else."
Uh, Again, I'm missing something. First, when you cancel an automatic payment, you should get a cancellation number and advise the CC company of it. With the cancellation number I've never known a CC company to continue it. It's an unauthorized charge at that point.

If they tried saying "or else" to me, I'd simply close the credit card immediately and never do business with them again. Or else what? What will they do? With what's been given, there's not much they could do. I'd also probably be contacting the AG's office.

Now there is the one caveat: There could well be a time frame in order to cancel the autopay. If too late, it might go through. But not for four months. That's not adding up. Unless it's some type of pre-approved charge that was racked up before. That would be completely different. But without knowing more, it's all guessing.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2006 at 3:08PM
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dadoes

dreamgarden probably thought if he/she paid cash, the autopay wouldn't trigger. That's not necessarily the case.

I recall a couple cases where I work of customers having autopay set up through CheckFree. One fellow died, his wife had NO CLUE about any of their finances and the autopay kept coming, for MONTHS. She no longer wanted the service, but she didn't contact us or was even aware the service existed, so how are we to know that? The other case, the fellow changed his account services, but didn't change the monthly autopay amount. We contacted him, he still didn't change the amount. Built up a large credit that had to be refunded when he eventually closed the service.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2006 at 1:54PM
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dreamgarden

Cynic

>This one has me confused though:
"...my cell phone provider gouged me for 4 consecutive months of payments even though I was paying cash at their store."
If you have auto-pay, why are you paying cash at the store? Something's missing or I'm not following something.

I was paying my bill in cash at their store. I had already called the (cell phone provider) ahead of time and told them I would be doing this. Each month my bill would arrive, each month it kept reflecting an overpayment. I would call them and they said it would be corrected. This happened FOUR months in a row. I contacted the credit card company and told them to cancel the card. Same thing happened with them. They would say it would be canceled. The following month I would get a bill for the same incorrect amount. I finally spoke to someone at the CC co. who said until the cell phone provider notified them, I would continue to be responsible for the charges whether they were right or wrong. They never said ANYTHING about having to have a cancellation number.

BOTH the cell phone provider and CC company neglected to inform me of this necessary requirement. I wonder why? Well the reason why, is because THEY were MAKING MONEY and didn't want it to stop.

These companies do not make it easy. They don't fully inform you when you sign up, and they don't tell you what you really need to do in order to cancel this type of payment.

I finally contacted a consumer newspaper reporter. She said she doesn't care for automatic payments for the same reason and gets many calls regarding this. She contacted the cell phone provider's publicity relations department. That worked. They must have called my CC company because everything was taken care of within the month and I didn't receive any more credit card bills. My cell phone bills are what they are supposed to be. I still pay in cash. I no longer have the credit card. They send me solicitations all the time. Thanks, but no thanks.

Contacting the AG's office is a good idea.

dadoes

>dreamgarden probably thought if he/she paid cash, the autopay wouldn't trigger. That's not necessarily the case.

I wonder what IS the case? Who at EITHER company, was supposed to tell me I needed a cancellation number in order to stop the autopay? Out of a total of seven calls, 4 to the cell phone provider and 3 to the CC company, not ONE person mentioned this. Don't they teach customer service reps this information? I no longer wanted auto-pay and told them this. I said I would be paying in cash from now on and to cancel auto-pay. I don't understand how I could have been any clearer.

>I recall a couple cases where I work of customers having autopay set up through CheckFree. One fellow died, his wife had NO CLUE about any of their finances and the auto-pay kept coming, for MONTHS. She no longer wanted the service, but she didn't contact us or was even aware the service existed, so how are we to know that?

"How are we to know that?". How did you find out that her husband died? How do you know the wife no longer wanted the service if she was never contacted? Was she on the account too? Doesn't your company have some policy regarding taking money from a deceased person's account?

> The other case, the fellow changed his account services, but didn't change the monthly autopay amount. We contacted him, he still didn't change the amount. Built up a large credit that had to be refunded when he eventually closed the service.

When the fellow called to change his account services, was he asked if the present autopay amount was ok? If he was changing his account services, this would seem to be a logical question to ask a customer. Was he notified by telephone or in writing? This is why I like to receive paper billing.

Sometimes when a credit card company calls (and leaves a message), they don't always state the nature of their business. When I have called back, they try to sell me some service or item I'm not interested in. Now I don't return calls unless they leave a message telling me something is wrong, or needs to be corrected. I had them put this in my file. I don't want to be bothered with solicitations or irrelevant matters that aren't directly related to some kind of problem with my account.

In my opinion the above examples are just more reason to pay as you go and not allow company's to have recurring access to your bank account.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 1:14PM
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dadoes

We found out the customer had died when his wife called more than a year later after a friend had been helping her sort through the mess. That's our fault?? We're supposed to scan the daily obits, compare them to our customer base, and call whenever there's a suspect-match on a name to confirm "Hey, did somebody at your house die?"

The customer who changed his service received a monthly paper statement, which CLEARLY indicated the billed amount had changed. His autopay was NOT set up through us, but through his own use of the CheckFree service. We have no control over whether or not he looked at the statements, and we couldn't cancel the autopay as it was NOT triggered by us. After a few months when enough overpayment had been applied to generate a credit balance is when we called him to advise of the situation. He still DID NOT change the autopay amount. That's our fault?? I suppose it is, for not keeping just the payments needed to maintain a zero or near-zero balance and returning the rest when they arrived.

DreamGarden: You say that you paid cash, and the bill was also autopaid, which resulted in an overpayment on the next bill (credit balance). That would be a double-payment, which would leave no payment due on the 2nd billing. Did you pay cash again anyway? Why? If you received a bill showing an overpayment, you should not have paid cash again while you were working on getting the autopay canceled, until there *was* a balance due. You cannot say the cell phone company "gouged" you for 4 months, if the payments *were* credited to your account. Did you ultimately lose the 4 months of service/payments?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 3:13PM
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dreamgarden

dadoes-

>We found out the customer had died when his wife called more than a year later after a friend had been helping her sort through the mess. That's our fault?? We're supposed to scan the daily obits, compare them to our customer base, and call whenever there's a suspect-match on a name to confirm "Hey, did somebody at your house die?"

In your previous post, you did NOT say that she contacted you AT ALL. What you DID say was: "One fellow died, his wife had NO CLUE about any of their finances and the autopay kept coming, for MONTHS. She no longer wanted the service, but she didn't contact us or was even aware the service existed, so how are we to know that?"

So she DID contact you, right? This is why I wondered HOW you knew that her husband died. NOT because I think your company has its employees scan the obits to see which of its customers has died. What about my other question? Was the wife's name on the account? If it wasn't, how would she have a clue that she owed anything unless her husband was getting a paper statement to back up the autopay withdrawals? You say the withdrawals went on for MONTHS, and that she finally contacted you a year later. If this were the case, I could see how she might be "clueless".

As for the second customer, I would certainly want my credit card provider/etc. to refund any extra payment that I make in a timely manner. One or two months at most. The credit card provider I switched to does this. Sure it's the guy's fault for not changing the autopay amount. Its also his fault for not using a form of payment that doesn't keep pulling money out of an account long after he's done using the service. Does your company accept other forms of payment besides autopay? What happens when they fall behind in their payments? Is it safe to say there would be "late fees" tacked on the next bill? No accrued interest for the customers who overpaid months in a row though, right?

About the cell phone provider, I eventually got my overpayments back. After they spoke to the consumer reporter. And YES, I CAN accurately say that they gouged me for 4 months. My bill SHOULD have reflected a double-payment. But it didn't. I had renegotiated my contract so that I only owed $55.00 a month, instead of my old rate of $95.00. Each month (after having supposedly cancelled autopay) I would go to the store in person and pay with cash. I'd get a receipt. Four months in a row, the same $40.00 overcharge would appear on my credit card statement ANYWAY and I would have to CALL THEM to find out why I was still being charged $95.00 instead of $55.00.

Each time I called, they would say, "Oh we are SO SORRY, your RIGHT. Your NEXT statement will reflect the correct amount with a credit for the overcharges. Well, it DIDN'T. Not a single one of the four different persons I spoke to did what they promised. Why do you think that NONE of these employees told me I needed a confirmation number to cancel autopay?

The only reason I used autopay to begin with, was because I used to pay my bill with a personal check. I sent my payment in the envelope they provided with my bill. At least two months in a row, they never got the check. It was mailed to a location less than 200 miles from my address. It didn't clear my bank, so WHO KNOWS where it went. It was mailed from the post office. All my other bills seemed to arrive where they were supposed to. Why would they send me a bill with an address to mail my payment to that doesn't go where its intended? Of course I was charged a late fee for THEIR MISTAKE.

The consumer reporter AGREED with me that their service is abysmal and that she gets calls about them ALL THE TIME. After she spoke with them, they credited me the total of ALL of my overpayments, gave me a new cell phone, plus $100.00 for my trouble.

Autopay is fraught with problems I can live without.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 9:37AM
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dadoes

It sounds like your billed amount was still $95, you paid $55 cash, and autopay triggered for the difference of $40, leaving a ZERO balance. You weren't overpaying. You were being overbilled. Not the same thing as overpaying. Overpaying would be if the BILL was for the correct $55 but your payment applied was $95, leaving a $40 credit. There were two problems. 1) They didn't change your account to the new $55 rate. 2) They didn't cancel the autopay. That's definitely a customer service problem. You can't blame autopay, it was working correctly.

The woman whose husband died, the account was in HIS name only. It was a long time ago and I don't work with billing on a daily basis so I don't recall all the details precisely. She really had no clue about their finances. The other fellow who changed his service and was then overpaying, he did still have service and was using it, but had closed a secondary account. He was one of those big-shot types who doesn't bother with actually looking at his bills. He had set up the autopay *through his bank* or maybe had an accountant or assistant who handled the finances and that person set up the autopay.

We support many payment methods. Customers can send check or money order via postal mail. Drop cash, check, money order at our office. Autopay via credit card or debit card or bank draft triggered from our side, which by the way automatically changes per the amount due. Call in a credit card or debit card payment, which we do manually on the ccard terminal while the customer is on the phone. Manual pay online via credit card. Or customers can arrange their OWN autopay via their bank or CheckFree or whatever service they desire, which DOES NOT interface directly to our billing system, so it is THEIR responsibility to update the payment amount if necessary. We DO NOT charge late fees or interest on past-due accounts.

The Post Orifice does make mistakes. Last statement mailing a batch to a particular nearby town (all to PO Boxes) came back undeliverable. How can a PO Box be undeliverable this month, if it wasn't last month? We took them to the local PO, they could not explain what happened. Said they'd send the pieces directly to the destination PO instead of routing them again through the regional sorting facility, which apparently is where the glitch occurred.

Do I use autopay triggered by the vendor? Not currently. I did for many years. I take care of my grandmother's finances, and had her electric, gas, and phone on autopay. Also her AARP supplement (which still is). Her social security is direct deposit. I canceled autopay when our bank was sold, routing numbers changed, yada yada. It was easier to cancel in advance of the transition, than to wrestle with timing calls to the vendors to change the draft info. I never had any trouble with autopay while it was active, and no trouble with canceling it (other than that one of the utility companies required written cancelation).

All my bills and my grandmothers are now paid via my bank's online billpay service. The only one set for auto-recurring is my mortgage. I have the recurring set for the correct amount, but I edit it each month anyway because I've been doubling the amount. All the rest of them I schedule manually.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 3:34PM
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costumecarol

Good warning on the scam. I have worked in retail forever, so I knew about the 3-digit code being a security measure for the vendor to make sure he was dealing with the actual card owner (as opposed to someone who had pilfered the number from your unshredded trash.) The time we didn't think to ask, we were scammed ourselves, sending several hundred dollars worth of merchandise overseas...CC holder lived in New Jersey. The credit card company protected their customer though. The customer was credited, and we were out the merchandise and shipping.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 11:01PM
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dreamgarden

>It sounds like your billed amount was still $95, you paid $55 cash, and autopay triggered for the difference of $40, leaving a ZERO balance. You weren't overpaying. You were being overbilled. Not the same thing as overpaying.

Regardless of whether I was being overbilled or overpaying, the key issue is that no matter how many times I called the cell phone provider or credit card company, they were unable to correct this. I'm sure that had I used ANY other form of payment, the problem would have been resolved much sooner.

>I take care of my grandmother's finances, and had her electric, gas, and phone on autopay.

Your grandmother is most fortunate to have you helping her with her finances.

> I never had any trouble with autopay while it was active, and no trouble with canceling it (other than that one of the utility companies required written cancelation).

I'm sure that being in "the business" makes all the difference too.

It is still my opinion that autopay is a PIA. They don't tell you what you need to do and the customer is left to sort through the maze. Here is another example of how hard it is to cancel autopay.

Terminating Automatic Bills
http://www.stretcher.com/stories/06/06apr03b.cfm

    Bookmark   April 14, 2006 at 11:19PM
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dreamgarden

costumecarol

>Good warning on the scam.

Thanks.

What a raw deal for your company that the customer was credited, but you were out the merchandise and shipping.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2006 at 12:15AM
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dadoes

dreamgarden, if by "in the business" you mean that I work for a company that provides autopay service to people, that is not the case.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2006 at 1:04AM
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